Lethbridge resident Kimberly Keeping pulled her daughter from in-person classes last week but not due to COVID-19.
According to Keeping, 13-year-old Miley has been the subject of bullying since the start of the school year after coming out as transgender.
“The names she gets called, it’s awful,” Keeping explained. “She can’t go a day without getting called a ‘tranny,’ or a ‘tranny freak.'”
Miley, who didn’t share her last name for privacy reasons, said her teacher outed her as transgender and continued to call her by her dead name, adding the teacher didn’t step in enough when a fellow classmate was bullying her.
“The bully called me a lot of mean names and pushed me,” Miley said. “My teacher (didn’t) do anything, just says: ‘We will talk to the boys.'”
Keeping added getting a solution from the school has been an ongoing battle and felt it was necessary to have Miley finish Grade 8 at home. She plans to have her attend a different high school outside their boundary in the fall.
“I have so many emails where they’re calling her (her dead name) or ‘he/him’ and I’m like: ‘That’s not her name,'” Keeping added.
In a recent meeting with the Lethbridge School Division, Keeping was told the actions of Miley’s teacher would be investigated.
“My daughter just wants to be a girl and be treated like who she is.”
Global News reached out to LSD for response and while it could not confirm any ongoing investigation or give details on this specific case, it provided the following statement:
“Lethbridge School Division has developed Policy 502.2, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression, along with a comprehensive appendix to the policy, Guidelines for Attending to Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Orientation. Policy 502.1, Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environments, is also in place.
“The division cannot comment on specific cases, but division schools act in accordance with these policies and the supporting documents to these policies, whenever situations arise.”
Jaxon Hurt, Kimberly’s partner, recently resigned his position as an educational assistant at Miley’s school. He saw a need for a more inclusive school environment.
“Even for me, the whole year was wrong pronouns and dead names at times and stuff like that,” he explained.
Having been an employee, Hurt said there could be more done to train staff on dealing with minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“(They’re) allowing a 13-year-old to go through something that me, as a 30-something year-old, I don’t think I would handle too well.”
Eddy Robinson, the community programs and outreach lead of Skipping Stone Foundation, emphasized the importance of Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) and other inclusive opportunities in school.
“To not have school as a safe place makes going and attending — and furthermore learning what’s actually happened at school — impossible,” they said.
“The importance of supportive adults, supportive peers and supportive spaces is so that youth can learn.”
Robinson added both staff and students who witness bullying behaviour should be aware of how to respond and try to be a support system for individuals struggling.
“The community that you feel locally is not the end-of-the-line. There is community out there.”